Dyngus day is a Polish holiday that celebrates the day after Easter. Women tap the boys they like with pussy willows and men dump buckets of water on the girls they like.

Buffalo NY is the biggest Dyngus Day party in the world. It has turned into an awful display of humanity, but I never realized it. It is like I finally woke up. Grown men stumbling around wearing I LOVE PUSSY shirts and pissing on everything they could find. Open container and indecent exposure isn’t a thing I guess.

For one day a year, the streets of Buffalo’s Eastside are filled with a sea of red and white. Thousands packed the streets for the 11th annual parade celebrating Buffalo polish pride and the end of Lent. Floats throw kielbasa, butter lambs, rye bread, and even cartons of MILK – vegan nightmare!

It’s like Mardi Gras, but instead celebrates the end of lent, the end of giving things up. You have to work for this, it’s a reward.

People who are here may have had family that once lived on the Eastside, but let’s face it, the neighborhood has gone through a demographic shift! It has been swept into poverty.

I am from the neighborhood, too, but it doesn’t make it right to hulk smash through the current residents of the poorest neighborhood and piss all over it. Polish people moved to the suburbs and didn’t want the old Polonia neighborhood or Dyngus Day to die, but it can’t continue like this. Perhaps renovating the Central Terminal will be a real positive for the neighborhood rather than a Polish invasion.

I know that am part of the problem. I keep coming to this realization and until I stand up and fucking change it I AM THE PROBLEM.

I stood there with my friend, wearing flowers. We had biked down to the East Side. We were standing in front of a building where two men of color diligently worked putting up tiles on the front of it. There was a younger child on the second floor peering out the window. Men kept filing in and pissing on the side of the building, the kid was yelling “STOP PISSING ON MY HOUSE I CAN SEE YOU!” I should have backed the kid up. Even the men remodeling didn’t stop them, what power did they have in a sea of bros? White men have been pissing on them their whole lives, now it is just literal. Next year I want to fill up a super soaker with PISS and squirt all the assholes who just think they can piss all over the east side.

Yes it is a depressed neighborhood, there are a lot of abandoned houses, but I know damn well that people are trying, people are LIVING THERE and we run through their backyards like fools. Dyngus Day guests need to have respect for others and should be ashamed of themselves.

To some people it is innocent fun, but these same people need to open up their eyes. Just because you aren’t doing something on purpose doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

It felt like we were at a Donald Trump rally. There was a sea of red and white, motorcycles, all white people, the occasional MAKE AMERICA POLISH AGAIN sign, and the most blatant shirt with Trump’s face that said GRAB HER BY THE PUSSY WILLOW! Pussy willows, squirt guns, red and white, falcons, butter lambs, kielbasa, traditional dancers, goofy t-shirts, racist rhetoric, oh yea and a league of Trump supporters.

Their sense of entitlement astounds me. The disillusionment is mind blowing. Trump has an audience with these fools- misogynist, racist, anxious, angry, and teetering middle class comfort. Disenfranchised white people are dangerous! Scary and powerful, balding, scared of change and won’t ever admit fault.

At the heart it is a quirky holiday, and I should feel safe to celebrate my heritage. We just need to stop being assholes about it.

The custom of pouring water is an ancient spring rite of cleansing, a sign of fertility and purity. Pussy willows are the first bud of spring. They are indicative of new growth. 50 shades of red and white, whipping and splashing. Lots of dirty shirts talking about wet pussies have emerged from these traditions. Polka bands with names like Hokus Polkas and Those Idiots are my favorites.

 

This holiday NOT observed in Poland. Smingus Dyngus means “wet Monday” in Polish. Buffalo likes to make everything into a drinking holiday – 2 for $5 shots of Krupnik (Polish honey liquor). As I was waiting in line for the porta potty, a girl shared some krupnik out of a honey bear bottle. I tried to buy it from a liquor store on the west side and he had no idea what I was talking about.

Sure, I’ve been the butt of pollack jokes.  The radio station 97 rock hosted a day of pollack jokes on Monday. People are embarrassed of their heritage because of the stigma of being a dumb pollack. Try being a dumb pollack and a dumb blonde at the same time.

Why is it ok to make fun of Polish people so openly? The official Dyngus Day Facebook page called out 97 Rock for making fun of Polish people. These same folks can’t seem to find a problem in supporting a BIGOT misogynist president, though.

I am proud of my culture, but I am not proud of my race as a whole historically. Victim narrative of angry white men is too common a story. People who feel like their government has left them behind.

In Buffalo, the day Trump was elected their was a huge fire at the former shell of Bethlalem Steel. A symbol of strength and American economy, a symbol of the failure of these white men. The industry failed, Buffalo lost a lot of jobs. Now it burns as Trump rises like a fucking phoenix from hellfire.

Wake up! THE WORLD DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND WHITENESS – the American Dream was only designed for white men, they have been babied and feel “lied to” and now they are pissed that the Easter Bunny isn’t real, they chased the white rabbit into a hole of racism and anger. Oh no, your butter lamb melted!

White privilege is the ability to piss all over someone else’s pride and dignity without seeing the consequences. There were so many drunk bros and retired men reeking havoc with their blurred sense of reality. The girls were no better. We all had on pretty flowers and held water guns and took selfies on the same streets that kids were murdered with real guns.

The Eastside of Buffalo is a war zone, between gang violence and police straight up murdering people I would be afraid to leave my house too. Now we add a sea of entitled suburbanite asshats to the mix?

We need to be giving back to this community, loving and nurturing the people who are there, not just colonizing for one day and leaving. We need to ask them where we are needed and not trample on their dignity in the name of tradition.

My friend was busking on a street corner and got bashed in the face with his own clarinet by a drunk bro. Great job Buffalo, probably the same internet sensation who was fucking his girlfriend and doing lines of coke in the lot outside of the Bills game.

Of course Anderson Cooper laughed at this…

On April 13, 2017 the Orange Racist Misogynist US President’s Mar-a-Lago resort was found to have at least thirteen health violations.

This article is not about the current US President, who seems to waste too much time at a resort that improperly disposes of fish parasites and stores food on rusty shelves, thus causing health risks to his fellow wealthy white male gasbags.

This article is about food safety.

Anyone who has endured severe nausea, vomiting, cramping and diarrhea after what seemed to be a safe and pleasant restaurant meal knows that food poisoning and food safety are no laughing matter. Food poisoning can cause hours or even days of discomfort and in some cases, even death. It is for this reason that food safety is so important.

In Canada, food safety is a major priority and every food-related industry is affected. Since the process of food inspection spans farming to fisheries to restaurants to the production of processed foods, this article is going to focus specifically on restaurant and food service safety and inspection.

Food safety and inspections relating to restaurants and food services in Canada are generally handled by the provincial authorities, though when there’s a big city involved, the provinces often delegate to municipal authorities, as in the case in Quebec.

In Quebec, restaurant and food safety is handled by primarily by the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pecheries et de l’Alimentation (MAPAQ). MAPAQ delegates responsibility for food safety inspections in Montreal to the City of Montreal’s department of food inspection. Both organizations must enforce the Quebec Food Products Act.

The Quebec Food Products Act is a law that covers basic food safety in the province of Quebec. It defines food as anything that can be used to feed man or animals, including beverages but excluding anything alcoholic, which falls under the Act respecting the Société des alcools du Québec. Ice and bottled water are also considered food as per the act if they are intended for sale by volume or for preserving or preparing food. This information is not only useful for those charged with enforcing the law, but also handy for anyone arguing with a loved one about whether or not their favorite snack food is actually “real food”.

The term “restaurateur” as per the act refers to anyone who serves or sells meals or refreshments for consumption. This includes operators of schools and establishments governed by the Act respecting health services and social services, the Act respecting health services and social services for Cree Native persons, the Act respecting the Québec correctional system, and the Government and their departments or agencies.

The rules for food safety as per the Act are clear.

No one can prepare, keep for sale, purchase, sell, and resale or give as promotional items food that is unfit for human consumption, so deteriorated as to be unfit for human consumption, or if the safety of the food is “uncertain”.

Facilities used for food preparation and the vehicles used to transport it must be clean and sanitized. Machinery used in food preparation must be in good working order, designed for their intended use, and permit the cleaning and disinfecting of the machine when necessary. People involved in food preparation must comply with hygiene and sanitation rules prescribed by government regulations.

The City of Montreal’s Food Inspection Department has been around since 1927 and is now charged with enforcing the Act in the city. Their team of forty inspectors works to protect food consumers by ensuring the quality and safety of food prepared in restaurants, retail establishments, and in the transformation, preparation, storage, and distribution of food sectors. The City’s food inspection team is also responsible for temporary establishments, such as food stands set up for special events like the Montreal Jazz Festival, Grand Prix, and Just for Laughs.

The job of the inspectors is to inspect food and food related businesses and activities in terms of health risks and safety. They can also advise food business operators on good food safety practices, and conduct food quality and safety analyses.

As they have been charged by MAPAQ with enforcing the Act, the City’s food inspectors can charge and impose penalties on those in violation of the Food Products Act, which consist of fines ranging from two hundred and fifty dollars to two thousand dollars for a first offense, with fines increasing for every subsequent offense.

The City often imposes fines in response to complaints, which can be made by anyone witnessing unsanitary conditions at a restaurant or retail food seller, or following the consumption of food at an establishment that made the person sick. You can either phone in a complaint at 514-280-4300, or fill in an online form available at the City of Montreal’s website. In order to successfully submit a complaint online, all you need to provide are your name and contact info, the name and address of establishment, and the date and a brief description of the incident. The information provided is considered confidential and once a complaint is received, the City inspectors should respond within twenty-four hours.

Want to try a new restaurant or café but doubtful of its cleanliness? The City of Montreal has a page allowing you to see if a place has previously been cited for food safety violations. You can search for it according to the name of the place, the address, the street, city, or type of business. Just remember that a previous citation for health violations doesn’t necessarily mean the place is not up to code now.

The City of Montreal gets about 1900 complaints a year for everything from unclean conditions, to spoiled food, to vermin, to illness following food consumption. In a city that thrives on vibrant restaurant culture, food safety is a major priority, so don’t be afraid to give them a call the next time your food makes you sick.

* Featured image by Michela Simoncini, Creative Commons

I hear a beautiful song or poem or painting or glance

It touches my heart
Then I want the artist to touch my body
Skillfully
Artfully
Fully

Spend time on me like a painting
Write our present moment like a song
Give my kisses the passion of a poem

I just want to know him
She is too beautiful to tell
I see the girls that strike their fancy
Hell
They look nothing like me

But I know that art is meant to make that feeling feel real
And I am not special
I am seduced like the others

You are the electric tangerine stripe in a cobalt sky just after sunset
You are the poppyseeds in my teeth
The barbeque sauce on my fingers
Delicately licked
Smacked
Sucked
Sticky

They will tear you apart
Until there is nothing left but your art
Open wide with a price tag
Vivisection connection
There on display for mass consumption

I see
Obsession in the third degree
I have a problem where I think the world revolves around me

But the art you made was for a girl you knew growing up
The song was about a stranger on the subway
Something you heard in a dream
Perhaps an ex or a fantasy

Not me
It was never about me.

As an artist myself, I am often surprised at how I fall in love with the sparkles of hope in someone’s soul bearing words or visuals. Every time I feel duped by shiny pretty lights. Smoke and mirrors.

I often wonder if someone has ever felt that connection to me? Has someone thought I was out of their league? Saw my art and fell in instant love, lust, glee, watched my ass jiggle on stage, or heard me read a poem for the first time, perhaps even reading this blog.

I hope to connect with the broken hearted but not to break more hearts. I sit here alone at every art opening and poetry reading, every concert and play, just hoping that this one time it IS about me, and I will live happily ever after with the artist of my dreams.

Every person I have loved is an art maker, a shaker, an artful faker, and a heart breaker. I need to be with an artist because I know they are capable of passion. Life must be lived with absolute passion, careful thought and careless blocks of paint and color, words that stop wars.

Musicians are the worst. I fall for them so easily, so hard. It’s like their words and sounds touch places inside me that cannot be touched by mere mortals.

Drummers hold a beat in the bedroom, guitarists and piano players are good with their fingers, songwriters and poets write lyrics better than sex, they linger. The everlasting embrace of creativity that enraptures me, seduces me, envelopes me in thoughts that are dangerous to my mental health.

I have no stealth. I clumsily love those who are floating on their own clouds. They all have hot girlfriends now, but not when I started. I feel eternally broken-hearted. I love so hard it blinds me, then when I see it’s truly embarrassing.

I do get sad. It’s unavoidable. The pandora stations I listen to are based on all of my past relationships, people I have dated, girls I have had crushes on. It’s not like I want to go back to any of them, I know everything ends for a reason. But I think what if I ran into him at the Pink? What if I looked up and saw that familiar pout? Would I brush the hair from his forehead and kiss him like I did a thousand times before? Would it feel the same?

I took it for granted, didn’t know it was going to end, did’t really have any expectations, I never do. I never know who is going to make my chest tingle, these people are few and far between. I don’t just pounce, I long, I wonder, I let things pass me by. I never think I am anyone’s “type”, do people have types? I don’t! I walk through life haphazardly bumping into people until one of them makes me tingle, then I cling to them like static and never say a word until, of course, it’s too late.

What happens when your current crush likes all the bands that your ex liked? Then who will the songs remind you of? Both simultaneously methinks. The good times are killing us while the bad times consume our souls. It is unrelenting and never ending.

I elevate my crushes so it’s easier to feel that way about someone who is already on the stage. Looking down on me and my insecurity, they have no idea how much love is bursting from my seams. My skin is going to explode and a ball of light is going to shoot out of me.

I need to love others, share the light, stand up and fight, words like daggers can stagger through the night. Putting people on a pedestal is wrong, they are just human. If I never tell any of them how I feel, is the feeling real? Or is it just something that lives and dies inside of me, a waxing moment of passion, gone in a flash.

Even this pain will fade, the colors will blur with new love and possibility. It will turn grey and shrivel. Lather, rinse, repeat. I will never stop loving musicians, poets, painters, photographers, and creators. Even if it hurts, it’s worth it to feel that moment of special. They SEE you! To be loved by an artist you will forever be second to their art, because even love and sex don’t compare to expression!

Usually I am lost in my own art. I haven’t written about my heart lately because honestly I haven’t “felt” anything “real” in awhile. My heart has been too swollen with the reality that a young black man has been murdered by the police in my neighborhood. The president of my country is a cheeto demi-god complex fool who is making even more a mockery my country. 40% of the food is in dumpsters and children starve around the world and around the block from me. Transgender women are being targeted and murdered, they can’t even pee in peace. No Muslim or Jewish person is safe, neither is anyone of any distinguishing race. Animals are being tortured for consumption. Rape, slavery, bombs, wars, and lack of education are killing us and big corporate greed is demolishing our Earth at a rapid pace (not even the water is safe). I have no debt but still don’t know how I am going to continue to pay my bills. My grandpa has dementia, my best friend is racist, and my job is in jeopardy due to gentrification. How can I find time to be sad about my lack of a love life? There is no time to wallow, only to fight, and not forget to dream.

That’s why I fall in love with fellow artists, with those moments that make me forget about how hard things are. It is a selfish release. I want to live in their world, be part of that fanciful scene. I want to be the girl they knew in high school or the song they wrote in a dream. I want beauty, passion, and all that lies between. Bask in the spotlight together, the same kind of weird.

Pay attention to your heart, pay attention to art. Love uncontrollably, even if it hurts after, it was worth it. It will always be worth it.

 

Germany, Rwanda, Kosovo, Syria – what do these places have in common? They were and are the sites of some of the worst atrocities in our history.

On April 7, 2017 the Orange-Gasbag President of the US authorized military strikes against Syria. The attack was allegedly precipitated by the use of chemical weapons against civilians.

Though the Syrian government, led by president Bashar al-Assad, has denied responsibility for the chemical attacks, the insurgents he is fighting not only lacked the means to commit them, but the targets consisted of the rebel-held town of Khan-Sheikhan, and one of the medical clinics treating victims of the ongoing civil war.

This article is not about the US President’s hypocrisy, as he blames Obama for the situation in Syria and yet in 2013 tweeted:

It is not about the fact that the US military strike hit an almost empty airbase that had little impact on Assad’s reign of terror, or the fact that the Orange Blowhard’s administration has clearly seen the film Wag the Dog.

For those unfamiliar with the movie, it features a President on the brink of scandal whose advisors fabricate a war to win back support from the American people. With the evidence of treason against the Cheeto Administration mounting, it should be no surprise that they’ve thrown themselves into a war against a hugely unpopular world leader, especially given that said world leader is backed by Russia, the very state accused of hacking the American election. With evidence mounting that Russia was warned about the US airstrike, this move by Orange Administration is clearly just for PR purposes.

This article is about Crimes Against Humanity, Genocide, and War Crimes.

With refugees being turned away by xenophobic politicians in primarily white countries and military leaders breaking every rule in International Law, it’s high time we looked at how the world defines these crimes.

For this article, I’m going to use the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the International Criminal Court and has been in force since 2002.

The International Criminal Court, based in The Netherlands, is a permanent court that investigates and tries individuals charged with crimes against humanity. Their goal is to put an end to impunity for atrocities and acts complementary to existing criminal justice systems.

The Rome Statute, in describing the role of the International Criminal Court, provides detailed definitions of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Genocide is defined as any of the following acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group”:

  • Killing members of that group
  • Causing serious physical or mental harm to members of said group
  • “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”
  • Imposing measures to prevent births within that group
  • Forcibly transmitting the children of said group into that of another group

Crimes against humanity are defined by the Rome Statute as acts committed as part of a “widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population with knowledge of the attack.” That means that for an act to be considered a crime against humanity, it has to be part of a widespread deliberate attack against civilians that includes one or all of the following acts:

  • Murder
  • Extermination
  • Enslavement
  • Deportation or forcible transfer of the population
  • Imprisonment
  • Torture
  • Rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, or forced sterilization or any other serious sexual violence
  • “Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender” or other grounds
  • Enforced disappearances
  • Apartheid
  • “Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.”

Unfortunately, the Rome Statute’s definition gender is binary, recognizing only male and female despite evidence that gender goes beyond the two.

War Crimes are defined as breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which establish a set of rules for humanitarian treatment in war. Article 8 of the Rome Statute has a sort of abridged version of the definition of war crimes, which include:

  1. Willful killing
  2. Torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments
  3. Willfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health
  4. Extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly
  5. Compelling a prisoner of war or other protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile power
  6. Willfully depriving a prisoner of war or other protected person of the rights of a fair and regular trial
  7. Unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement
  8. Taking of hostages

The Statute lists other offenses as war crimes, including intentionally directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects even when they’re not military objectives.

Though it goes without saying that war crimes and crimes against humanity are indeed taking place in Syria, prosecuting war crimes is always a problem. As Larry May, Professor of Philosophy and author of the book Crimes Against Humanity: A Normative Study once wrote:

“We cannot prosecute on the basis of moral outrage alone.”

It is for this reason that rules on how to prosecute atrocities were established. However, in order to successfully do so, you need a certain degree of consent from the country the crimes took place in, as state sovereignty and the right to self-determination is the rule in our international system. There are no overarching laws to force countries to hand over their war criminals if they don’t want to subject them to international justice.

The International Criminal Court can only prosecute cases committed in a state that is party to the Rome Statute since 2002. The ICC has no jurisdiction in countries like the USA, China, and Russia who chose not to ratify the treaty, undoubtedly due to concerns about their own statesmen being prosecuted.

In this international crisis we have to remember that we are citizens of the world with a responsibility to shelter and protect the victims of atrocities and punish the perpetrators. At the same time, we must do our best to respect that the people of a country have the right to determine what is best for them. Let’s hope an influential someone in the White House remembers this too.

Until the recent election of the Orange racist misogynist, the public seems to have had mixed feelings about the press. On the one hand, people use it as a means of achieving justice via social pressure and shaming when our legal system fails them. On the other hand you have people unreasonably targeted in the court of public opinion thanks to the press and social media, ruining their lives before the courts can decide their innocence, liability, or guilt. On top of that, news websites are covered with politically or corporate sponsored pieces masquerading as real news that claim to be offering sound advice and information when they’re really just pushing products or agendas no one needs.

It is in this new age of juggling fake vs. real news that we as a society need to take a serious look at what real journalism is, and the laws and ethics of those who practice it.

The simplified definition of journalism is the occupation of a diverse bunch of people who write, edit, and distribute electronic, print, and audio visual material on subjects of public interest. People think of journalists as strictly doing the news, but most news websites have everything from the news, to animal sob stories, to entertainment stuff, to insight on fashion and tech trends to ranty editorial pieces.

That said, though the press is universally recognized as playing an important role in any healthy democracy, there is little in Canadian law explicitly protecting its members. Journalists are widely considered to be the watchdogs of our democracy, calling bullshit and demanding justice before everyone else, but there’s no special law guaranteeing their rights.

Most of the rights of journalists come from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In Quebec, the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Civil Code, and in the rest of Canada, case law.

In the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we have article 2(b) which guarantees freedom thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press for everyone.

In the Quebec Charter, we have sections 3 and 9. Section 3 is a lot like 2(b) of the Canadian Charter in that it protects freedom of opinion and expression. Section 9 protects our right to the non-disclosure of our confidential information.

Last but not least in Quebec, we have civil law, written into our Civil Code and Code of Civil Procedure. The rule is that any evidence found to be obtained under circumstances that violate someone’s fundamental rights and freedoms can, to a certain discretionary degree, be rejected by the courts.

Journalists’ fight to protect their sources is one of the more frequent issues that come up before the courts, forcing our justice system to define the rights of the press outside of any definitive legislation.

In 2010 in Globe and Mail v. Canada (Attorney General), the Supreme Court was asked to come up with a way of deciding under what circumstances a journalist should be made to reveal their source.

Anonymous sources are extremely important for societal watchdogs as it allows them to get information from people in circumstances where their job, their reputation, or their lives would be jeopardized by publicly sharing the information themselves. On the other hand, you have the right of the authorities to know where important information is coming from in order to successfully resolve a criminal investigation, and the right of lawyers to have access to information and people in order to successfully defend their clients against criminal charges or lawsuits.

The Supreme Court in Globe and Mail used the Quebec Civil Code and the Canadian and Quebec Charters to come up with the following test as to whether a journalist should be made to reveal their source:

First, one must ask if the evidence resulting from making a journalist answer questions that could reveal their sources would be relevant to the case. If the answer is yes, the courts must consider the following four factors about the anonymous source:

  1. The relationship must originate in a confidence that the source’s identity will not be disclosed
  2. Anonymity must be essential to the relationship in which the communication arises
  3. The relationship must be one that should be sedulously fostered in the public interest
  4. The public interest served by protecting the identity of the informant must outweigh the public interest in getting at the truth

In addition to those rules and tests, you have the criminal code and the rules regarding civil liability.

Hate propaganda, public incitement of hatred, and promoting genocide are all criminal offenses in Canada.

If someone causes you damages such as those that could cost you your wealth or livelihood, damages that negatively affected your health, or damages that caused you psychological problems, you are allowed to seek reparations for those damages. People in Canada have successfully sued journalists and media companies for damages because their actions ruined their reputations and/or violated their right to privacy.

Outside the law, the press tends to regulate itself. Lobby groups like the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec put out codes of ethics for the profession that set out the rules they all should follow. This includes no plagiarizing, making sure to put out accurate information, and making clear distinctions between their personal opinions and the facts they present.

In an age where politicians feel free to accuse the press of undermining democracy, media literacy is more important than ever. We have a responsibility to keep our eyes open for the thinly veiled sponsored pieces and the ranty conjecture masquerading as fact.

Journalists who expose this to us are more important than ever and we need more rules to protect them. Politicians may not like reporters, but without them there’d be no democracy, and no one would know who they are. As Oscar Wilde once said:

“The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about.”

Let’s keep the press free, so they can keep talking.

* Featured image by Pete O’Shea via Flickr Creative Commons

Is hugging just plain weird? Hugs not drugs. Free hugs. Cheek to cheek bodies entangled. A pat, a brief squeeze, or a firm grip. There is something incredibly magical about the transfer of energy between two people. The touching of bodies in a warm embrace, a gesture of kindness and love.

But there can be a dark side to hugging. You can trigger all kinds of stuff by thinking you are just innocently hugging someone. It is no different than rape. The key is consent, making sure that the person you are about to hug wants to be hugged.

Personal space is always to be cherished and respected. You cannot assume anything about anyone, you don’t know if someone was abused or just doesn’t like to be touched.

Someone you normally hug may not want the hug this time. Do you ever have days where you just don’t feel like being social? There have been times I have felt obligated to hug someone because they wanted it. I wouldn’t just sleep with someone because I know they wanted it! Hugging should be no different.

I am calling myself out on being an offender of taking away other’s freedom with my free hugs. I have hugged someone and immediately regretted it. I have been a hug rapist. I have also been guilty of lingering too long, making the hug uncomfortable by accident.

If someone is pulling away let them. Do not be too aggressive or squeeze the life out of someone. Don’t force yourself onto anyone, ever.
 It really is a personal thing, so yea, I think it is weird to hug someone when you first meet them, even if you are being introduced by someone you both know and hug. A hug goodbye on a first meeting may be appropriate with proper consent of course. A hug hello can be amazing between say two people who haven’t seen each other in awhile. Running toward each other at the airport. The hug is obviously wanted by both parties, they yearn for it. When they finally collide in a rush of squeeze it is beautiful. This is the hug people dream about later.

Human contact is so important. We feed off of each other. A good hug with consent is like no other feeling in the world. You can literally feel the energy merge.

 

I feel the need to offer a hug to people I love when they are sad. Putting a sobbing human into yourself is intense, you take in all of their negative energy and try so hard to rub off your positivity into them. Comforting another human is a raw and pure basic instinct.

I find myself taking on a maternal role with some of my younger friends sometimes. I am fairly certain that I am never going to have children, so I don’t mind sharing my energy with others, hugging the world that wants to be hugged.

Children often are the victims of unwanted hugs. I remember being hugged by a lot of adults. It was confusing because I knew I was not supposed to talk to grown ups, you know stranger danger, be aware. Then I would meet family friends or whatever and they would go in for the hug immediately. Red flag bro! I don’t even know you! Why would you put a kid in that situation. It will cause a lifelong fear of intimacy.

A lot of people do not like hugs. Never assume someone wants it. Always ask, even if body language suggests otherwise. If they say no offer a handshake, fist bump, or a wave. Don’t ever just “Oh we are friends” and go for it, if you do that you are not a good friend.

The double cheek kiss is an odd greeting to me too. Nobody has time for a cheek full of someone else’s lipstick traces, but that’s for a different blog.

Just remember, consent, consent, consent! Oh, and I hate when people go in for the hug when I am just done performing and still topless. No bad touch. Be considerate and respectful to others at all times. “May I hug you?” See that’s easy!

On March 23, 2017, M- 103 on “Systemic Racism and religious discrimination” passed in the House of Commons. The motion was introduced by Iqra Khalid, a Liberal MP from Mississauga Ontario and is considered to be Canada’s anti Islamophobia motion, though it has little worth beyond its symbolism.

The motion met opposition on both sides.

On the one hand you had white supremacists using the good-old “slippery slope” argument in which they claimed that passing the motion was one more step towards forcing Canada under Sharia Law. On the other side you had liberal Canadians – secular and religious, white and people of colour – decrying the gesture as being frivolous.

The motion is not a law.

The motion uses convoluted wording demanding that the government “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism, and religious discrimination” when the motion has no power to do so. Believed to be a politically motivated act to get some pats on the back in wake the Quebec City Mosque massacre, the motion is also completely redundant.

Canada has a lot of protections against discrimination, and they’ve been in our legal system at least thirty years.

First, there’s the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the brain child of the late Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau when he repatriated our constitution from Great Britain in 1982. The Canadian Charter is entrenched in our constitution, which means that it has primacy over all other laws in Canada and any law deemed to be incompatible with it can be struck down.

The Canadian Charter lists our fundamental freedoms which include those of conscience and religion, of thought, belief, opinion, and expression, and freedom of peaceful assembly and association. It also contains our legal rights to life, liberty, and security of the person, and to equal protection before law without discrimination based on race, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or physical disability.

The Charter only applies to government entities which include everything from Citizenship and Immigration Canada to public schools to hospitals. If a law is discriminatory, the Canadian Charter allows us to go to court to seek redress for the discrimination. Once one side proves the violation it’s up to the government to prove that the law is within reasonable limits as per the Charter’s main failsafe that allows legislation to survive in spite of itself because the ends justify the means.

Then there’s the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

Enacted in the 1970s, the Quebec Charter applies to both private and public entities. The Quebec Charter prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, colour, pregnancy, sexual orientation, civil status, age, religion, political convictions, language, ethnic or national origin, social condition, disability and the use of any means to ease it.

The Quebec Charter not only prohibits harassment based on those grounds, but also has provisions against discrimination in everything from access to public spaces, employment, and housing. It also prohibits the distribution or publication of notices, symbols, or signs authorizing discrimination. People whose rights have been violated as per the Quebec Charter can also seek redress via the courts and the Quebec Human Rights Commission.

Last but not least, we have the Canadian Criminal Code.

The Criminal Code has laws about hate propaganda and public incitement of hatred. Publicly advocating for genocide could result in a prison term of up to five years. Publicly inciting hatred and willfully promoting it in a circumstance other than in a private conversation could result in up to two years in jail.

Perhaps the most significant way our Criminal Code punishes hate crimes is via its sentencing guidelines. When the court must determine the sentence of an offender, it must consider a bunch of aggravating circumstances in order to decide whether to give the maximum or not. The first of these aggravating circumstances is:

“evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor,”

Since our laws already punish hate crimes, what is it that the federal government could do to further fight racism and discrimination?

Here are a few ideas that would have greater impact than any frivolous motion at a time in which Canada’s visible and religious minorities are asking for more than symbolic acts to prove the government will protect them.

First, the federal government should make transfer payments to the provinces for education conditional in part on the inclusion of a history or social studies course at the primary or secondary level about Canada’s different cultural and religious communities and their contributions.

It is widely acknowledged that racism is a learned behavior. Education is the key to enlightenment and such a course could prevent kids from becoming hate mongering adults while giving provinces the funds to create the curriculum and fix existing courses that leave people other than the French and English out of Canadian history.

The federal government should also demand that the Implicit Association Test be mandatory for law enforcement as part of their entrance exams.

The Implicit Association Test was created by Harvard University and is useful for determining people’s hidden biases against, for example, a particular ethnicity or gender. Any candidates shown by the test to have strong prejudices against a particular group should be made to undergo training about the groups they’re biased about as a condition for their admission to law enforcement. This would help to tackle racial profiling and police brutality and weed out some of the racists from law enforcement.

Candidates for judicial appointments should be subjected to the same test as a condition of their appointment. Strong negative biases would result in mandatory training as a condition of their appointment. This would not only help with discrimination towards religious or visible minorities, but would also prevent judges like former Judge Robin Camp from ever hearing a rape trial.

Last but not least, the federal government could increase its support for organizations that actively fight discrimination. The Center for Research-Action on Race Relations would be a good one to start with.

Talk, like that in Motion 103, is cheap. The need for symbolism is over. It’s time the government took real action against hate.

On March 15, 2017 the US Department of Justice announced that they were laying charges against four people accused of hacking four hundred Yahoo email accounts in 2014. Two of the accused are Russian intelligence officers and a third was in the US but has since fled to Russia. The fourth is one of our own, Hamilton native Karim Baratov, age 22.

Baratov has been roasted by media and law enforcement because he openly flaunted his love of luxury items online. When people asked how he could afford these things, his reply was that he was providing online services.

In the court of public opinion, it sounds like Baratov is guilty of the crimes he’s accused of, even though “online services” could mean everything from sexy video chats to tech support.

This article is not about Baratov. He is currently in jail awaiting his bail hearing in April and plans to fight his extradition to the US where he would face charges of conspiring to commit computer fraud and abuse, conspiring to commit access device fraud, conspiring to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

This article is about how we address hacking in Canada.

It should be said right off the bat that not all hacking is illegal. One of the definitions of hacking is writing computer programs for fun, which is not illegal if the programs are harmless.

The other definition of hacking is the one most people are most familiar with, which is the act of getting into a computer illegally.

Though it’s never called hacking in the Canadian Criminal Code, the section dealing with the crime is the one used to address mischief. That’s right; the laws against hacking are in the same place you find the law punishing leaving flaming bags of poop on doorsteps on Devil’s Night.

The crime of hacking in Canadian law is called “Mischief in relation to computer data” and is defined as willfully:

  • Detroying or altering computer data
  • Rendering computer data meaningless, useless or ineffective
  • Obstructing, interrupting or interfering with the lawful use of computer data
  • Obstructing, interrupting or interfering with a person in the lawful use of computer data or denying access to computer data to a person who is entitled to access to it.

The punishments are the same as for any other kind of mischief crime. If the act put a life in danger, you’re liable to spend life in jail. If the crime caused damages worth five thousand dollars or more, it’s an indictable offense with a maximum sentence of ten years in jail or a summary conviction which would mean six months in jail or a five thousand dollar fine. If the value of the damage was less than five thousand dollars, you’re facing either a summary conviction or an indictment with up to two years in jail.

Like many crimes, hacking is often done with intent to commit other crimes like fraud, theft, and unauthorized uses of credit card data. A person guilty of hacking could therefore also be found guilty of additional crimes, some of which – like fraud – carry stiffer penalties than mischief.

Canadian law also holds a person responsible if they counseled or made it easier for someone else to commit a crime and they can face the same penalty as the perpetrator who actually did it. They can also face those penalties if they knew or should have known the crime could be committed as a result of their actions or lack thereof.

Though Canadian governments have been criticized as being ill equipped to tackle computer crime, the government seems to be doing its best not only to protect itself from cyber-attacks but also to teach us to protect ourselves.

In 2010, the Harper Government launched the Cyber Security Strategy outlining a long term national plan to deal with computer crime. The website getcybersafe.gc.ca was created by Public Safety Canada and is full of guidelines for ordinary citizens and businesses with the goal of keeping Canadians safer by increasing awareness of common online threats and how to fight them. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Center was created by a joint effort by the RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police, and the Competition Bureau to fight mass marketing fraud online and is regularly updated with information regarding popular scams.

Technology is advancing at a greater pace than ever and our governments are trying to catch up to protect the victims. The problem with their initiatives is that they seem to place most of the pressure to protect against cybercrime on potential victims, which could lead to victim-blaming even in cases where, due to age or infirmity, a person may not be tech savvy enough to take every precaution. Their plan needs work to put the onus back on law enforcement to protect against cyber-crime back on those charged with protecting us, but at least it’s there.

Last week’s Montreal snowstorm was quite the disaster. People stranded in cars on Highway 13 for hours, busses just not showing up, sidewalks still not cleared days later. It was a disaster on a political level and an institutional one. Fortunately, it was not a disaster on a human or social level.

That’s not how Andrew Potter and Maclean’s Magazine see it, though. In a much shared (primarily for the purpose of criticism) editorial, the Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada posited that the real culprits in last week’s snowmageddon were restaurants that gave two different bills, one for cash payments and one for “traceable” payments. Um, what?

I have lived in Montreal my entire life and I have never been offered a different fee depending on what payment method I chose for supper or drinks. Not saying there isn’t any sketch in Monteal’s service industry, just saying that if there is, it’s way smarter and nowhere near as obvious.

Regardless, how does this have any relevance to the issue he is discussing? Oh, yeah, it’s societal decline that led to what happened last Tuesday. People just not caring about their fellow human. No sense of community.

Clearly, Mr. Potter doesn’t have the faintest clue what he’s talking about. But I guess that doesn’t matter to right-leaning Maclean’s readers in the rest of Canada who just had their preconceived notions about Quebec and Montreal justified.

This “editorial” reads like something Potter wrote months ago and saved for an appropriate news item to come along that he could tie it to. Maclean’s must have been all too happy to get yet another article blaming Quebec culture for something.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of blame that should go around because of what happened last Tuesday. Blame our political leaders who let over 300 9-1-1 calls slide until 4am. Coderre and Couillard do have a lot to answer for. Blame their nonsensical attempt to pin what happened on a trucker who allegedly refused to be towed (unless he was stalled across all highway lanes, I fail to see how this is even an excuse).

Potter and Maclean’s let them off the hook. Instead, like the politicians, they pinned it on the community. My community.

Last Tuesday I remember seeing people helping to push cars stuck in the snow, taking people in who couldn’t make it home and stuff like this online:

Image via Facebook

That’s right, people getting out and pushing a bus that was stuck in the snow. That’s Montreal, that’s my community. Sure, we have our problems, but when the shit hits the fan, we pull together.

It’s a real shame that Maclean’s chose to publish the one guy in town who refused to see it that way, either out of ignorance or a desire to grind his favourite ax.  It truly is amateur hour.

“Nobody is superior, nobody is inferior, but nobody is equal either. People are simply unique, incomparable. You are you, I am I.” -Osho

I constantly have this deep seeded problem of not thinking I am in someone’s “league” or I am not their “type”. I can’t compare myself to people’s ex girlfriends or current obvious infatuations. But… she was thinner than me, bigger boobs, more covered in tattoos, shorter, less like a giant, perfect skin, more of this, less of that.

As a defense mechanism I don’t often allow myself fall for people because I know that I don’t have a “chance” and that’s so stupid. Especially if it’s someone I have known for a long time. I see their history, the people they often gravitate towards, they are nothing like me because they are unlike anyone but who they are. A lot of times people are attracted to those who share similar qualities as their selves.

I think to myself, why would she want me when her ex was so perfect? Well, she must have not been THAT perfect or they would still be together, right? You never know what kind of evil lurks inside someone who may be aesthetically good to look at.

I know that I am more than what I look like. How people are intimidated but I am timid. I am scared to open up my heart but not to take off my clothes. I will do more on the stage than I will in the bedroom due to insecurities of the flesh. I feel so awkward. I need to remind myself that everyone feels that way. Everyone is insecure, feels like they have something to cover up.

It’s also shitty for me to compare people to my exes, who are a varied group of humans. In theory I am attracted to tall men and a certain kind of woman. That is such bullshit, I’m calling myself out on it. How can I compare a man to a woman to someone who is trans or non-binary?

I would lie to say that someone’s looks do not play a part in it, but it is not everything. I love talent, people who are not afraid to let whatever their weirdness is out.

Everyone is so unique and special. I have to take the too shortness and too tallness, the too fatness and the not smart enoughness, the not right for me, not right now thoughts inside my brain and flush them down the toilet like a dead goldfish. These thoughts and insecurities are so foul and bad for the environment that they are like a toxic shock tampon clogging up the pipes.

That goldfish should have never been in a tiny bowl. It is not fair to trap beauty in a stagnant little space, on display, tap, tap, tapping on the glass. So beautiful yet so alone, knows nothing else.

“Would you rather be alone or with someone who makes you feel lonely?” – NYC Tinder Clown

Being by yourself is not lonely. I have felt alone in the arms of a lover because I cannot let go of my wall. I have felt alone in the arms of a lover because they built a wall so tall and strong that my love could not scale it. I have felt alone in the arms of a lover because there is no lover at all, never was, and I am swimming in the mote. I will not feel alone if I love the troll in the mote that is my home. I am a mud woman in search of her troll. Let’s writhe in our palace of filth!

My friend reminded me that people often overlook the things you think are a big deal. The hot cook where she works bent down and she was checking out his ass, his shirt came up in the back revealing a red patch of psoriasis, she noticed it but it did not make him any less appealing to her.

It’s like during a show when you think you fucked up a big move or moment, then everyone cheers anyways. They had no idea what your expectations of that performance were. You are the only one who knows anything was wrong.

All of the things you think are wrong about yourself are not a big deal to anybody else. Never compare yourself to what society wants you to look like. Even those perfect models are not happy in their skin.

 

Why do people seek out clones of themselves to date? Like it could only make sense if we “match”. I have been on dating sites nearly as long as I have been dating, what the fuck does that say?

As soon as the almighty internet came into place people started using it to have sex and find sexy things to look at. I wish to exist in a time without all of that, where people just meet and hang out and discover their attraction in person. It’s always so exciting and unexpected when you find yourself crushing on someone.

There is no guess in online dating. If the person is being honest, they have already told you their life story and ambitions and been put through a computer program with you to determine compatibility.

I have had my OK cupid profile for like eight years or something like that. My photos were all old, it hadn’t been updated, it still said “omnivore” and I am vegan. That is a big life change that the computer did not know about me.

It is interesting to see the things that haven’t changed. I still don’t want kids. I still have cats and like dogs. I am not still “bi-sexual” though, because I now realize that I never was, I am pansexual because I do not believe in the gender binary. Gender is fluid. Pansexual was not an option when I first set up the account and now it is. That’s an improvement, but still another sign of inaccuracy.

I still just take that experience as a realization that people are ever evolving. An online profile may have sort of represented that person in the moment that they made it, but things change. Minds change every moment. You have to chose to live in the now and realize when you have made a mistake.

No matter how sexy someone is, no matter how “great” their ass is, shit still comes out of it. Humans are all gross and weird, we all have pasts, we all have done things that we are ashamed of, we have all hurt and been hurt by others.

To compare my struggle to someone else’s doesn’t make sense, so why do I do it with my body? I am always so self conscious of my skin. I have psoriasis over most of my body. But its not really ruining my life, is it?

I still get paid to take my clothes off, I just don’t get down to bare skin. I keep my scaly legs and ass covered in fishnets. I get scared thinking that I will end up in bed with someone then in the morning they will see what the fishnets and ambient lighting have been hiding this whole time.

It’s true that you can’t compare humans, but the loves of my life currently are about 10 pounds and covered in fur. Cats > Humans. Nobody will love and cuddle me like my kitty babies. I need to just enjoy that, relish in the small things that are actually huge.

There is a blizzard of emotions within me. I am clouded by my own awareness. Not everything is about sex, but isn’t it natural to want sex? We all want to feel loved and desirable.

I am not an expert on anything, especially dating. I am experienced in heartbreak and general confusion. I have been broken up with, cheated on, made to feel less than I should.

I have felt alone in the arms of my “lover” because I knew they were waiting around for something better. Better is not thinner or less covered in scales, better is me loving myself more and realizing that all humans are flawed and perfect in their own right.

After a train exploded in 2013 in the small town of Lac Mégantic, killing 47, many of the mourning families turned to the American justice system in hopes of getting better compensation. Four years later, the three firms representing them have charged them around $40 million in total, despite doing virtually nothing, according to information gathered by Radio-Canada’s Enquête.

40 of the 47 families have contracts with the Garcia Law Group (GLG). According to Radio-Canada, they have paid them between 10 and 15 million so far, with nothing to show for it. The firm is based in Southern Texas and owned by Wilfrido Rogelio Garcia. It was first registered there only a month after the Lac Mégantic accident.

Despite what his clients believe, Garcia is not even a lawyer. In fact the only lawyer on the firm’s payroll seems to be his daughter, Maria Garcia. GLG’s modus operandi is to pressure grieving families to sign contracts, so they can resell their cases to lawyers.

“They said to me that with some plane crashes in Europe, [Garcia] or his people were there in less than 24 hours. They were proud of that,” said Michele Whitmore, who once worked on a contract with GLG, as quoted by Radio-Canada. Garcia found clients in the aftermath of at least four plane crashes, in Peru, Greece, Russia and Indonesia, where the number of casualties ranged from 48 to 129.

GLG was the first law firm to get to Lac Mégantic after the tragedy They approached the families of victims and invited them to meetings to convince them that GLG could seek justice for them through the American system.

Ginette Cameron, who lost her daughter Geneviève in the explosion, remembers Garcia asking her several times if she would like another mother to live through what she lived through. She and her husband signed the same day.

Experts agree that such behaviour is against every deontological code. According to Bill Edwards, a lawyer interviewed by Radio-Canada, it is plainly illegal. Reporters have been unable to speak to anyone from Garcia Law Group.

Enquête’s full report will air tonight at 9pm on Radio-Canada.

* Featured image: Google Street View of the address listed on the Garcia Law Firm PLLC website

On March 7, 2017 Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould announced plans to clean up the Canadian Criminal Code and rid it of “zombie laws”. If you think of zombie laws, you probably think of the rules one would have to follow during a zombie apocalypse. Sadly, zombie laws aren’t related to the undead, but they ARE interesting, and like the zombies in fiction, can be rather annoying.

Zombie laws are laws that are no longer in force but still technically, physically, on the books.

The issue of zombie criminal laws recently came up due to the case of Travis Vader, the man convicted of murdering two elderly people in Alberta. The judge sentenced him for culpable homicide aka second degree murder.

Unfortunately, culpable homicide no longer exists in Canadian criminal law, it’s a zombie concept. If you kill someone, you can only be convicted of murder or manslaughter.

The provision the judge used to convict him – section 230 of the Criminal Code – had been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1990. Vader’s lawyers argued for a mistrial, but fortunately for the safety of everyone, they did not get one. The judge in question instead sentenced Vader to life for two counts manslaughter.

This is not the first time zombie laws have caused problems. Though the law prohibiting anal sex for people under the age of eighteen has been ruled unconstitutional by appeals’ courts, there are claims that sixty-nine people have been charged with the offense between 2014 and 2015.

Stephen Coughlan, Professor at Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University in Halifax came up with a list of zombie criminal laws. These laws include:

  • Spreading false news: This provision of the Criminal Code was struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1992 for violating constitutional protections of freedom of expression.
  • Vagrancy: This was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1994 in R v. Heywood for violating the constitutional rights to life, liberty, and security of the person, and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
  • Procuring a miscarriage aka abortion: Struck down by the Supreme Court in 1988 in R v. Morgentaler

Restrictions also still on the books include those against dueling, fraudulently pretending to practice witchcraft, and crime comic books – yes, crime comics used to be illegal.

The Canadian Criminal Code is over eight hundred forty nine provisions long.

Law enforcement, prosecutors and judges rely on it to determine who to arrest, who to charge, how to convict, and how to sentence a person for a crime. Though people in the legal and law enforcement professions are expected to stay up to date in their field, it’s impossible to keep track of every law and many will still look it up when in doubt.

If a law in a text they rely on to inform them has been declared unconstitutional but was never actually removed from that text, mistakes like the one in the Travis Vader case are inevitable, because the source material they rely on – and should rely on – is full of mistakes.

So why haven’t federal governments worked to remove these laws sooner?

The most likely reason is because governments are busy and removing something from a body of law as vast as the Canadian Criminal Code takes a lot of work they don’t have the time for.

In order to amend the Criminal Code, the government will have to present a bill calling for the changes. That bill will have to outline every single zombie provision and when it was struck down, declared unconstitutional, or why it’s not used anymore. That means that someone or a group of someones will have to go through the Criminal Code and the Canadian judicial system’s vast body of case law to determine which ones are zombie provisions. The extensive work of Professor Stephen Coughlan on the subject will undoubtedly be a useful starting point.

Once the bill is drafted, it will have to go through the same grueling process every other federal law has to go through. That means that it will have to be formally presented to Parliament, debated, debated again, and voted on. If it passes, it will have to go to the Senate for its own round of debate and votes. Either house can kill the bill.

If the law proposing to update the Criminal Code is passed, the next step is arduous process of actually doing it. That means not only removing the zombie provisions but also going over the Code in its entirety to make sure the text is clear and consistent through and through. There’s also the issue of where the current Criminal Code will stand while the updates are in the works.

Though the process is going to be a long and annoying one, removing zombie laws is a necessary job that’s long overdue. The difficulties will come not only in drafting and passing a law to actually do it, but in figuring out an efficient way to do it without leaving dangerous voids in our legal system.

Will the Federal government’s plan work? Only time will tell.

Today I was handing out free bananas with a group of people dressed like bananas.  We are part of a group called Waste Not Want Not, saving food from landfills. Saving peoples smiles from being forgotten.

The song Banana Phone was blasting, it was magical. Most people smiled, most people hugged us back, people love free things, people deserve free food.

One man came up at the very end, after we had already handed out 650 pounds of rescued bananas (in one hour). We had none left, he looked disappointed.

Then I remembered the one I had stashed in the pocket of my rainbow sweater. I handed it to him. He said “no thanks, that banana has been through A LOT.” Sure, it was a little bruised, but bruises make it more delicious. I am who I am because of what I have been through. I am proud of my darkspots. Character is brilliance.


Haven’t we all been through A LOT? Could you imagine being disregarded because you had a few bruises? I found a second banana on the ground that was “too green” therefore not good enough to keep, even for free. Someone didn’t have the patience to wait for the ripening.

Can you imagine giving up on someone for not being ripe enough? Not being educated or old enough for consideration. I say give everyone and every banana a second look, don’t just throw nourishment in the dumpster.

We all have bruises, scars, scabs, things that ooze and smell funny, bits of ourself that we might want to hide away, but can’t because they are the fiber of our humanity. We are all broken. We are all bruised bananas, so sweet and ready for hungry bites. All the bread of revolution, with nuts.

Even if it is mushy, it is perfect, it is lovable. The darker the skin the sweeter the fruit, never forget that.

On Monday the Orange Administration released a new Executive Order. We all knew it was coming, for no sooner had courts struck down the original Muslim ban when the White House promised a new and improved version. It was supposed to be signed and released last week, but then something strange happened.

In his first joint-address to Congress, the Lint-Covered-Cheeto President surprised everyone by acting like a gentleman. There was no blustering, there was just a man-child giving a speech. Reporters hailed his behavior as being truly “presidential” and the White House opted not to ruin the wave of good faith by releasing the new ban immediately afterward.

No matter what the new travel ban says, it will never outshine the atrocities committed in the first ban’s name. It will never outshine the baby who was denied entry for life-saving surgery (a lawmaker intervened on the child’s behalf when the story leaked so she was saved in the end), or the child separated from his mother for hours, or the old lady who was denied a wheelchair under the enforcement of the first Executive Order. It will never undo the widespread outrage from ordinary citizens and the legal community.

Now it’s time to look at the new Executive Order.

This order replaces the previous one and provides something the first order was sorely lacking: clarifications.

The first Executive Order was so vague no one seemed to know how to enforce it. As a result, people in positions to abuse it did and people with valid documents to enter the US from permanent residents to workers to famous authors and ex diplomats with legit visas were denied or delayed.

The new Executive Order provides a list of people deemed exceptions to its travel restrictions. Among the exceptions are lawful permanent residents, foreign nationals with valid visas or other documents allowing them to legally enter the US, people with dual citizenship, and those on diplomatic visas. Also exempt are foreign business people and workers, foreign nationals granted asylum or refugee status, children needing urgent medical care, and people legally admitted to the US to stay with family.

The new Order also does something the other did not: it condemned Islamophobia.

Unfortunately, the new Order does it in the most petulant way possible by defending the previous Executive Order with a none-too-subtle “we didn’t mean it that way!” response to the displays of Islamaphobia that had ensued.

Section 1 of the new order says:

Executive Order 13769 did not provide a basis for discriminating for or against members of any particular religion. While that order allowed for prioritization of refugee claims from members of persecuted religious minority groups, that priority applied to refugees from every nation, including those in which Islam is a minority religion, and it applied to minority sects within a religion. That order was not motivated by animus toward any religion, but was instead intended to protect the ability of religious minorities — whoever they are and wherever they reside — to avail themselves of the USRAP in light of their particular challenges and circumstances.

This petulant tone is consistent throughout the beginning of the new Executive Order as section 1 is full of justifications and excuses for the first ban.

On the bright side, it also includes a subtle acknowledgment that the White House would never succeed in the courts had they continued to try and enforce the first Executive Order. The provision that replaces the first order with the current one says that it is “in order to avoid spending additional time pursuing litigation”.

People generally back out of legal disputes to due amicable resolutions, lack of funds, or the fact that they know they can’t win. The former two do not apply here.

Then there’s the list of countries banned.

One would hope that a new improved travel ban would include limitations on some of the countries that actually produce terrorists. Those states widely acknowledged as such include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Lebanon, Turkey, and Kuwait. Sadly, none of these countries are on the list of limited countries as the new Order maintains limitations on Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia from the previous version.

However, this new Order tries to back up this list with facts cherry-picked in part from the Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2015 (June 2016). The Order does not state where the rest of its justifications come from.

It maintains the discretion of the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to make exceptions to the ban and like the previous Order, gives them extra responsibilities. The Order requires them with the Director of National Intelligence to review and identify countries from which more information is needed about their people before they are admitted to the US. Once they make the list, they have to ask the countries for information and if they don’t get it in a certain amount of time, the country’s people won’t be admitted to the US.

The new Executive Order was an opportunity for the White House to redeem itself. They could have limited nationals from countries that actually produce a lot of terrorists. They didn’t. They could have used actual facts to back their rules and claims, but they didn’t.

The White House did however do one very important thing which to specify who the ban does not apply to, leaving less room for racists and xenophobes with rubber gloves and metal detectors to arbitrarily bar or detain people they don’t like. In that sense, this new order is new and improved.

I love boobs. All sizes, shapes, colors, big nipples, little dime nipples, hairy boobs, round boobs, perky or saggy, squished in a bra, on my face, or naked in the sun, I love boobs.

It is strange to me how a part of the body is so obsessed over as these bags of fun are. They are mother’s milk, sacred life giving pillows, warmth, comfort, safety, and love.

I share my boobs for a living, I promote their loveliness and love the unique breasts I am privileged enough to see on a regular basis. I touch my boobs in my shirt often. I haven’t worn a bra in over a year, and the only one who has ever called me out on my nips showing is my own mother.

Boobs are so hypersexualized and that often times a woman’s “worth” is placed on what her breasts look like. I want to compile every kind of human’s thoughts on their own boobs/chest and how society fetishizes them in general.

It is important to think about how others view their own bodies and strive for things that some of us take for granted- trans woman, women with implants, a non binary human who binds their breasts, and a transman who had top surgery. It must be an incredible feeling to have your body finally match the gender of your soul.

My grandmother had one breast, she was a cancer survivor. She told me the story of how she went in for a routine check up and then that day was under the knife, she was so confused and scared. My grandfather didn’t know how significant this was. It was in the 1980s.

No woman should ever have to feel so scared. I have seen burlesque dancers with one breast proudly swinging their tassel. It means they survived, they are proud of their body no matter what people say.

Dahlia Dubois- Stripper, Artist, Badass…

On being a stripper with natural breasts:

“I feel like it really depends on what area you’re working in and what type of club you’re at. Like if you were working at the Hustler club it would be almost expected that you would have some form of breast augmentation. But as far as my experience here, it’s really a 50-50 crapshoot. I’ve only ever had one customer tell me my breasts were too small and that was as I was giving him a lap dance so clearly I must’ve not been that bad hahahaha Although I feel like I do want to get augmentation done but not to an excessively large level. Because I do feel like that would increase my profits.”

 

 

Colleen Dunphy- Writer, Burlesque Dancer , Model…

“I had my breast reduction 11 years ago and I know without a doubt that if I hadn’t done it I’d never be doing the things I do today. I would have never become a half marathon runner, I’d never have done nude modeling and I definitely wouldn’t perform burlesque.

My breasts made me very uncomfortable with my body, and especially the attention I got. I still get some of that now because I am still a DDD, but it’s not like it was before.

Getting the reduction took a huge weight off my shoulders, literately and figuratively. I had some body dysphoria right after my surgery, because it was such a big change so quickly. I lost 4lbs from each side. But eventually I was able to become comfortable in my skin.

I have some mental sensitivity with the scarring when I am first with a new partner, because I had someone have a really negative reaction right after my surgery, but that was the only one. I am actually working on getting the worst ones tattooed over now.

I still have some nerve damage, where it doesn’t feel the same as it does in areas above or below. But I actually have more nipple sensation now than I did before surgery.

I’ve been told I won’t be able to breast feed, and that was something I willingly gave up. Even through everything I’ve never had any regrets about my decision and I know without a doubt I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

I welcome anyone that wants to talk about it, or is interested in having one. I wish I’d had more people to talk to before I had mine. But it was before the major rise of social media and I just didn’t know where to go for that.”

Janna Willoughby-Lohr – Mother, Poet, Rapper.. 

“My view of the world as a woman as it pertains to my body has changed dramatically throughout my life…from a pre-teen girl when I didn’t even have enough boobs to hold my training bra down, just begging the great beyond to gift me with some curves…to a supple 20-something with cleavage for days who could (and did) rock any low-cut top I could find and often found myself admiring my own boobs in the mirror…to a 30-something nursing mother with 34G breasts that are no longer the same as they were, trying desperately to find a bra that actually fits and longing for the days where I could get away with low cut tops.

I used to want to be wanted for my body, before I knew better. Now that I’m a mom, I see how many ways the world blames women for being too sexual…or not being sexual enough…all at the same time.

I am proud to be a woman, and I’m proud of my boobs that have been able to feed my child for almost two years and even though I sacrificed my amazing cleavage to do so, I still love my body. As Baz Luhrmann says, ‘Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it. It is the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.”

In movie treason trials, a person facing a cruel, usually male, judge and screaming prosecutors is accused of betraying their country while they plead innocence and national loyalty. Sometimes the trial will end in a hanging, other times it will end by firing squad, and still others end with electrocution. Rarely is the accused set free.

In real life, treason cases are a lot more complex.

Despite the enhanced vigilance of Canadian and American law enforcement in the face of terrorism, people are rarely prosecuted for treason.

Since Canadian and American criminal laws have their roots in the British legal tradition, it’s time to look at how we and our southern neighbors define the crime and how it should be prosecuted.

In Canada, treason is defined in our Criminal Code.

There are two types of treason: regular, called simply treason and high treason.

High treason is defined as committing one or all of the following acts if you are a Canadian citizen:

  • Killing or attempting to kill the Queen (Canada’s de jure head of State) or causing bodily harm leading to her “death or destruction”
  • Maiming, wounding, imprisoning, or restraining the Queen
  • Making or Preparing for War Against Canada
  • Assisting an enemy at war with Canada or assisting any armed forces Canadian forces are fighting regardless of whether those armed forces are at war with Canada

Treason is defined by one or all of the following acts:

  • Using force or violence to overthrow the Canadian government or the government of a province
  • Communicating “without lawful authority” scientific or military information or sketches, plans, or documents of a scientific or military character that you knew or ought to have known could be used by an agent of another state against Canada
  • Conspiring to commit the above and manifesting an intention to go through with it via an overt act
  • Conspiring to commit high treason and manifesting an intention to commit it by an overt act. Conspiring with a person to commit treason is considered an overt act.

The law not only defines the crime itself and the penalties, but also who can be convicted of either kind treason and under what circumstances.

According to the Criminal Code, the rules on treason apply to Canadian citizens.

A crime of high treason can be committed while in or outside of Canada, as can acts of regular treason.

A conviction for high treason carries the penalty of life in prison.

The penalty for regular treason is a bit more complex.

If you’re convicted of using force or violence against Canadian government or province with the intent to overthrow it, it’s life in prison. The penalty is the same for communicating military or scientific information, documents etc. knowing or having ought to know that they could be used by another country or even conspiring to do so and manifesting intention to carry it out by an overt act while Canada is at war with that country. If you communicate or conspire to communicate this stuff when Canada is not at war, the penalty becomes a maximum of fourteen years in jail.

The penalties for treason are heavy in Canada as in most countries, so the rules of evidence and procedure are extremely strict in these cases.

Proceedings against people accused of violent attempts to overthrow the government have to take place three years or less after the alleged crime was committed. For overt acts of treason, the words of information expressing the overt act have to be laid under oath before a justice within six days of the alleged overt act, and a warrant for the person’s arrest has to be issued within ten days of that.

There can be no conviction for treason on the evidence of only one witness unless that witness’ testimony is corroborated my material evidence.

Only two people in Canadian history have been tried and convicted of treason.

The first is the Métis leader Louis Riel, who was hanged in eighteen eighty five.

The lesser known, Kanao Inouye aka the Kamloops Kid, was responsible for interrogating and torturing Canadian Prisoners of War in Japanese occupied Hong Kong during the Second World War. He was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death by a British war crimes court, but his lawyer successfully appealed on the grounds that Inouye was a Canadian citizen and therefore could not be considered a war criminal. Inouye was instead tried for treason and hanged by the British Hong Kong Supreme Court in 1947.

In the United States, the laws regarding treason are similar. As the nation was born in defiance of the British Monarchy which had been known to charge people of the crime willy nilly, the crime of treason is clearly and strictly defined in the US Constitution.

Article III, section 3 of the constitution defines treason as:

“…levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

As in Canada, the rules for a conviction on the charge of treason in the US are strict. American law requires the testimony of two witnesses to the crime or a confession in open court to convict someone of treason.

As in Canada, convictions for treason are rare. Most civil war veterans, for example, were granted amnesty by the US government instead of facing treason charges. In some cases, such as that of Iva Toguri D’Aquino, the trials and investigations were corrupt and ultimately resulted in presidential pardons and apologies.

The penalty for treason in the US can be imprisonment or death.

With the implications of treason so heavy, it’s no wonder people are rarely charged with the crime. However, with the revelations of the Orange Administration’s willful conspiring with the Russian government to corrupt their elections and push an agenda hurting the American people, the only question left is whether law enforcement in the south will grow a pair and prosecute those clearly guilty of the crime.